Image: Mitt Romney
Cheryl Senter  /  AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney addresses the Rotary Club at the Red Hook Ale brewery in Portsmouth, N.H., Thursday, July 14, 2011.
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updated 7/15/2011 4:39:03 PM ET 2011-07-15T20:39:03

Mitt Romney leads all Republicans in the contest for campaign cash, cementing his frontrunner status among contenders hoping to go up against President Barack Obama in 2012.

While Romney's $12.6 million in the bank far outdistanced a spread-out GOP field, dollars don't always translate to votes. The chasm between Romney and his rivals suggested many Republican donors are waiting on the sidelines, watching the topsy-turvy campaign foment and the candidates finally start to engage one another.

"It's a little unsettling that people have so underperformed expectations," said Dave Carney, an adviser to Texas Gov. Rick Perry who is weighing joining the race. "Clearly, there's some ... concern about either economics or about the candidates. I don't know the reason."

Romney, a ferocious fundraiser who spent weeks on the road collecting pledges and checks, added more than $18 million to his account during the April-to-June fundraising period, aides said ahead of his official filing. That sum outpaced his closest rival to announce numbers so far, Tim Pawlenty, by a 9-to-1 margin in banked cash. Yet still came up short for his campaign's internal $50 million goal for the first half of this year.

Video: Is the Tea Party taking over the GOP? (on this page)

Romney aides declined to discuss how much of that haul was from his personal fortune. During his unsuccessful 2008 bid, Romney spent more than $40 million of his own money on the race.

Pawlenty, the former two-term governor of Minnesota, raised just around $4 million during the April-to-June period and has about $1.4 million available for his primary contest and some $600,000 more available if he were to capture the nomination.

The reports also detailed problems for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, whose campaign was carrying more than $1 million in debt. The former Georgia lawmaker — whose bid has struggled since 18 staff members, consultants and advisers resigned en masse — raised $2.1 million for the quarter but spent $1.8 million. Gingrich listed about $322,000 in the bank.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who lost re-election in 2006, reported taking in $582,000, with less than $225,000 banked for his primary.

The financial picture for the 2012 presidential nominating race slowly came into clearer focus with the reports. While money doesn't guarantee success, it does pay for crucial television ads, polling to measure whether a message is working and staff to run the mechanics of a national election.

The numbers are one of the first measures of the campaigns' early strength as they look to take on Obama's well-funded re-election bid. On Wednesday, Obama's team announced it had raised $86 million during the second quarter of the year for his campaign and the Democratic Party.

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Georgia businessman Herman Cain has said he raised almost $2.5 million in the first weeks of his White House bid, but some of that came out of his own pocket. His report due Friday would detail how much the talk show host and Godfathers Pizza CEO invested in his effort.

Video: Romney raises money abroad (on this page)

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a tea party favorite, was expected to report a strong fundraising quarter.

And for Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, another darling among tea partyers, the numbers would preview her fundraising potential on a national scale. She raised $13.5 million for her own campaign in the 2010 election.

Aides said former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman has collected $4.1 million, but as much as half of that could be money he's put into the campaign himself.

Huntsman declared himself a candidate in June, but did not file his paperwork with the FEC until July. That means the first disclosures from the Huntsman camp will be on Oct. 15, when the July-through-September report is due.

On the race sidelines, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said her political action committee reported raising about $1.7 million during the first six months of the year and spending almost as much, about $1.6 million. The 2008 vice presidential pick has flirted with a White House run and has said she plans to make a decision later this summer.

Should she run, Palin could not legally shift SarahPAC's $1.4 million in the bank into a presidential race.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Is the Tea Party taking over the GOP?

  1. Closed captioning of: Is the Tea Party taking over the GOP?

    >>> excitement is all on stage right on the gop presidential field. a new poll shows tea party favorites are collectively running well ahead of mitt romney . if they line up behind one candidate, which probably will happen, like michele bachmann , like out mitt. let me both of you join me in this. we love quinnipiac. just 25% of republicans are for the so-called front-runner mitt romney , but the numbers that really tell us something are the other numbers. bachmann at 14, palin at bachmann at 14. palin at 12 and rick perry is at 10. but none of those people are necessarily running except for bachma bachmann . joan jump in here. i don't think the former governor of alaska is running. she would have shown something by now. i have no idea whether rick perry is it running. but if he's not, it looks like virgin timber for bachmann it chop down and take from mr. romney who is vaguely over there on the quote, moderate side.

    >> well, right. i think we have talked about there being kind of two republican primaries right now, chris . there's the kind of moderate gop establishment primary and mitt romney i think has won that. people like jon huntsman . he is not taking off. then on the other side, right. you have the tea party primary. right now, palin is prob not running. but i look at these numbers and i think, palin has to be looking at them. she is narcissus and she will think, why would i let michele bachmann --

    >> maybe you disagree, maybe you think she is running and it won't all go to bachmann . what did you make of the news week cover on palin. you think that indicated she is still in the running or just like the celebrities? what did it tell you? it is a very strong picture of her.

    >> right. she likes the celebrity. and she may not give it up. but she's -- narcissus is a strong word but she is into herself. she has high self esseem to. she could look at numbers and say, why am i not in there. i could flip it around and say, mitt romney is sitting pretty with this base right now. you could have two or three people who wined up fighting each other and splitting that vote. i don't know. that is where the energy is.

    >> back to my initial premise which may be shattered already by my friend, joan . you're right, maybe we will have rick perry running too. i don't know him like i know other politicians. you think we see in these polls. romney at 25. bachmann at 14. palin 12. perry 10. if you add up what judge's call the tea party primary candidates, you show a 35.

    >> it does show if you have multiple on the right, that could present and opportunity for romney to win in a scenario like mccaine did four years ago. mccaine never got to 50%. again, running in a multicandidate field. the key here i think is what does rick perry do? he could step in here --

    >> what is your bet? in or out?

    >> you talk to folks, chris , the past two days, they all think he is running in the party establishment. his folks say not a done deal yet and he is in no rush. here is the key about perry , chris . he could be the hybrid, establish nmt tea party coral. not like bachmann and romney who i think draw from very distinct pools. i don't see any other candidate in the race right now that has that kind of potential.

    >> what do you think, joan , i know you're on the progressive side. when you look across the aisle there and look at perry , is he for real? i guess i'm not really delved into what he is as a figure, as a character yet.

    >> he has a lot of baggage, chris . you know, i agree with jonathan. he can look like a hybrid candidate. that's an interesting strategy but i think when push comes to shove in a campaign, he he is a far right candidate. he presents well and he could be a george w. bush candidate. that's another strike against him.

    >> bush doesn't like him apparently.

    >> i know, i know. but he's got the experience of ten years as governor. but he's been close to the confederate groups pep talked about --

    >> he has a marginal character. he has this evangelical thing. it doesn't work with me, but i guess it works with some people over there.

    >> it does.

    >> how can you take serious lay guy running for president of the united states who is talking about ssession from the union?

    >> he was governor for ten years of one of the biggest states in the country. that alone will appeal to some folks.

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